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Conical vs Flat Burr Grinder

Last Updated: March 2020

Burr grinders are a step up from blade grinders, which use a propeller-like device to crush and grind beans. Rather than blades, burr grinders use abrasive surfaces known as burrs to perform the same function. There are two types of burr grinders to choose from-conical and flat burr-and knowing what the difference between the two are is very important if you are to choose the right one.

Table of contents

What is a Conical Grinder?

A conical grinder contains two cone-shaped “burrs” or grinding mechanisms. The ridges found on these burrs is what actually grinds or crushes coffee beans into the desired consistency. One burr remains in place while the other turns in order to facilitate the grinding or crushing functions.

Conical Advantages

A conical grinder spins somewhat slower than a flat burr grinder, which means that it will also produce less noise. It also creates less friction, which is important because that means less heat building up inside the grinder. In the long run, this will help to preserve the flavor of your coffee, as it means that fewer oils will vaporize during the process.

Other advantages include:

  • Fewer clumps
  • Produces less mess because static charge is greatly reduced
  • Provides greater control over the level of fineness

Conical Disadvantages

While a conical burr grinder does provide numerous benefits, it nonetheless comes with a rather hefty price tag. As such, it may not be suitable if you are on a limited budget or do not wish to vary the size of your grind a great deal.

What is a Flat Burr Grinder?

A flat burr grinder contains two flat “burrs” or plates that face each other. As with conical grinders, one burr remains stationary while the other moves back and forth. Rather than having ridges that crush and grind the beans, these functions are performed by the “teeth” that are found on the edges of the flat plates.

Flat Burr Grinder Advantages

When comparing a flat burr vs. conical grinder, the biggest advantage is price. These grinders tend to cost less than conical burr grinders, making them ideal for anyone who is on a budget. Other advantages include:

  • Provides more consistent results than a manual or blade grinder
  • Easy to adjust for various levels of coarseness or fineness
  • Requires little maintenance

Flat Burr Grinder Disadvantages

  • Burrs may easily become clogged, especially when grinding large quantities of beans
  • Produce more heat than conical burr grinders
  • May create more mess due to their increased static charge

Flavor Differences

One of the biggest considerations when comparing a conical burr vs. flat burr grinder is flavor. Flat burrs are thought to greatly enhance the fruity tones of coffee beans, while conical burrs may improve sweetness and bring out chocolate flavors.

The Bottom Line

If you are very particular about your coffee, a conical burr grinder would be your best choice. This type of grinder will provide you with even, consistent results while also preserving the flavor of your beans. Should you find that a conical burr grinder is out of your price range, we recommend buying the best quality flat burr grinder you can afford. Either one will provide you with years of dependable service, and will greatly simplify the coffee grinding process.

About the author

Sam Fox

With 11 years experience in making coffee, now owner of a London based Café, founder & writer of MPB (formerly House of Baristas) I have a passion for coffee, photography & travelling.

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